Sharing Urban Best Practices for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific

What is the Urban Knowledge Hub?

Urbanization in Asia is nothing short of staggering, multifaceted, and complex. In the next 20 years, another 1.1 billion people will be added to already-overcrowded urban centers. As dynamic growth enablers and potent magnets for rural–urban migration, city economies generate about 80% of national income and play a pivotal role in reducing poverty in Asia. On the other hand, they are also confronted with the intricacies of burgeoning populations, urban decay, as well as services and facilities spread too thinly. The Urban Knowledge Hub is a pioneering initiative made possible through partnership between the East Asia Department (EARD) of the Asian Development Bank and the College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP), Tongji University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China (PRC). Given the enormous scale and continuing nature of urbanization, the goal is to nurture productive knowledge exchanges in urban management, which can be applied in the PRC and elsewhere in Asia and the  Pacific. The Urban Knowledge Hub was launched during the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, a city famous for its rich history, urban dynamism, and global competitiveness.

What is the aim of the Hub?

The Urban Knowledge Hub will facilitate information and experience exchange between the PRC and developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to better manage urban development. The aim is to create knowledge and capacity to manage urban development according to principles of sustainable development and to develop cities which encourage urban residents to cut consumption of non-renewable resources, bring nature back, and improve quality of life.


What knowledge will be exchanged?

Urbanization presents both challenges and opportunities for reducing poverty and ensuring balanced economic development.

Countries in the region share many of the same issues in providing livable cities for their growing urban populations.

The Urban Knowledge Hub will facilitate sharing of good practice approaches in the following areas:

  • Environmental infrastructure
  • Urban planning
  • Climate change and energy efficiency
  • Urban expansion and renewal
  • Urban transport
  • Municipal finance

How will knowledge be exchanged?

The Urban Knowledge Hub is housed at the CAUP. In its early phase, the Urban Knowledge Hub will focus on peer group information exchange to develop good practice case studies that can be applied to different contexts and can be disseminated to wider audiences. As the Urban Knowledge Hub develops, further approaches to knowledge exchange will be used and wider partnerships developed.

The Urban Knowledge Hub will provide:

Dissemination workshops:

Annual workshops will be held to facilitate knowledge sharing in the key urban development topics.
Improved knowledge exchange is expected to create synergies for the partners and will help them improve the ability to simulate growth, reduce poverty, and adopt sound approaches to rapid urbanization.

Dedicated website:
A dedicated website will collate and disseminate an increasingly broad range of information on key aspects of urban development.

Best practice awards:
Awards for best practices in sustainable urban development will be presented at the annual workshops to promote innovation, dissemination and implementation for green, inclusive and competitive urbanization.

Reference library:
Build a reference collection of hard-copy materials introducing technologies and approaches over time.

Why is ADB’s East Asia Department involved?
Given EARD’s involvement in urban development in the PRC, EARD aims to facilitate information sharing for the benefit of less-developed provinces in the PRC and other countries in the region. This knowledge exchange initiative supports ADB’s wider mandate to reduce poverty in the region and to work in partnership with its member countries to increase regional cooperation.

Why is the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji involved?
CAUP is a leader in generating and disseminating state-of-the-art urban practices in the PRC. CAUP is keen to support less-developed urban areas of the PRC and the region to tackle urban issues. CAUP is a designated agency for training government urban planners and is part of a network of national and international universities and research institutes specializing in sustainable urban development.

How long will the partnership run?
EARD and CAUP have signed a memorandum of understanding that will run from 2010 to 2013 and in 2012 it has been extended to 2017. During that time, the Urban Knowledge Hub will engage its stakeholder base regularly to improve the service it can and should provide to achieve the Urban Knowledge Hub’s stated aims.

How will the Hub be sustained and developed?
The Urban Knowledge Hub aims to widen cooperation with other partners who have similar aims to increase knowledge and improve approaches to tackling and harnessing fast-paced urban development in Asia and the Pacific.